Rollcentre Racing return to Le Mans with Ginetta Juno LMP3.
Rollcentre Racing, with a 20 year history spanning club racing through to Le Mans 24 Hours, today announces their return to the Le Mans Series after a 6 year absence, racing in the new for 2015 LMP3 class in the European Le Mans Series with Ginetta Juno.
Rollcentre competed in the Le Mans events from 2004 to 2008. In the first two years, they raced two Dallara Judd LMP1s. Headlining performances included leading overall in the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours, and successful appearances as far afield as Sebring and Istanbul. In 2006 Rollcentre took to LMP2 and the new Radical chassis powered by Judd, and again delivered great performances in a tough year.
In 2007 Rollcentre moved back to LMP1, with Pescarolo Judd, and in the Le Mans 24 Hours finished an astonishing 4th overall, narrowly missing out on a podium. This great achievement, matched only by a private British Team some 10 years previously, earned Rollcentre and owner driver Martin Short, and fellow drivers Stuart Hall and Joao Barbosa, many plaudits. 2008 then became last year for Le Mans for the Rollcentre team.
Martin Short is also well known for working with TVR, developing the Tuscan R which made its way eventually to Le Mans under the guidance of Lawrence Tomlinson, owner and driver of Ginetta Cars. Short also bought the Mosler brand of race and road cars to Europe, and Rollcentre won the British GT Championship in 2003 in a Mosler GT car and is still supporting and manufacturing Mosler race cars (which are not eligible for Le Mans).
Short “ After some amazing years racing with the ACO, and the Le Mans Series, I never really envisaged being able to return. However Lawrence Tomlinson’s and Ewan Baldry’s (Designer) vision of Ginetta Juno's new LMP3 car caught my attention.
Lawrence invited me to the launch of the car on a wet evening in Leeds, and I was so impressed by the prospects of this new visionary class, that I agreed to buy the next day. This car is a proper Le Mans Prototype, with good rules, good build and equipment standards mandated by the ACO. Ginetta Juno have, in true racer Tomlinson style, hit the ground running hard with this car.
The finances to buy and run the car are well controlled by the rules, and it’s a terrific package with Nissan Engines, Xtrac gear boxes, Megaline, Cosworth and Alcon, along with Toyota wind tunnel designed Aero, and of course, Ewans experience of building prototypes for many years with Juno. I am really excited to be involved at the beginning of this new adventure, and really happy to work with Ginetta again after helping out with their GT3 development and a 24 Hour race a few years ago.
Lawrence and I both started our Endurance racing with TVR and our paths have been inter-twined for many years, so to now join him and Ginetta, another thoroughly British company, seems like completing the circle. I have a great team of experienced people who have worked with me in so many Le Mans races that are totally stoked to be racing Prototypes again with the ACO. The final piece of the jigsaw, is that my ex engineer Michael ‘Cushty’ Tallentire who worked with me at all those Le Mans races, went to work with Lawrence at Ginetta when our programs stopped, and all he wanted Ginetta to do was to go Prototype racing. Well he died suddenly at a young age on the eve of Xmas eve in 2013, and now, almost a year to the date, we are all almost together again, and his son Alex will be working with us. Its very spooky, and unbelievably exciting. I’ve been waiting for 6 years for something to get my attention, and this is it.
We will get our car before the first race at Silverstone, and time will be tight for us, as it will be for the other five Ginetta LMP3’s being built simultaneously. I am not intending driving at this stage, but I will be managing the team, using my experience along with top race engineer Lee Penn, to get our car to the front. The prize for winning LMP3 is an entry for LMP2 in 2016, and that will be our goal. To that end, we are looking for drivers, and partners to become part of the ‘Rollcentre Back To Le Mans Adventure’.”
We had not seen Rollcentre Racing and Martin Short in the major international events as Le Mans or the European Le Mans Series since 2008 –the team racing then at Le Mans with a Pescarolo 01-Judd- even though the team was still racing in European series like Britcar, Dutch Supercar or VdeV (the black Mosler wining in VdeV at Dijon in 2009, driven by Martin Short himself and Jon Barnes, below).
However, Rollcentre Racing will be back this coming season in the European Le Mans Series, entering a new Ginetta-Juno LMP3.
Martin has kindly answered a few questions for Endurance-Info
Martin, what are your feelings about this comeback? Have you been thinking about it for a long time?
I have been dreaming about it, but without a big sponsor or wealthy backer, it just has been too far away financially to consider……. its financial suicide to maintain LMP1 or probably even LMP2 just on driver budget alone. However this category changed the game for me, and it came as quite a shock. The cars look fantastic, have a great equipment specification, and great support from Ginetta. I just went to ginetta to have a look, and suddenly I found myself think “This is really possible!”. So we have done it!
I think its great credit to the ACO that they were brave enough to consider this car, and make many difficult changes en route to get to the right solution. With the V6 engine, this car looked like a slow ugly duckling. With the Nissan V8, its changed the shape, and the concept. Its a real, and fantastic looking car now.
Do you think that the LMP3 category will be very competitive and do you hope that other manufacturers than Ginetta-Juno will build a car too?
It should be competitive yes. The chassis design is by Ewan Baldry, the man behind the very successful Juno sportscars. His partner is Lawrence Tomlinson, the man responsible for changing the face of economic car racing around the world with Ginetta, and with the wealth and enthusiasm (as a Le Mans 24 winner himself) to make sure this is funded well and done right. This actually feels like dealing with Pescarolo again. Car racers building race cars for fellow racers, with economics and performance in their minds, not big profit margins.
I hope that other manufacturers will follow Ginettas lead, we don’t want it to be a one make category, but a true competition. I really hope that LMP3 is the new GT3, but without BOP, without politics, and at less than half the price.
When will you take delivery of your LMP3 and have you already planned a testing schedule?
As decisions on the specification of the car were late, the has put a lot of pressure on getting the cars in time. Oreca and Xtrac are working really hard to get the power and transmission units together in time, but my feeling is that for the Paul Ricard test, there will only be one or two cars, but Ginetta are hoping that all the players will be able to attend and get a feeling for the car. After that, there will be a rush of parts to finish the cars in time for a test day session at Silverstone, hopefully with ACO approval, for all LMP3 competitors, and then into the race. Its going to be very close for sure, but I have confidence in Ginetta, Oreca, and the ACO and ELMS organisers to make this work with satisfaction and success for all stakeholders in this new class.
What sponsors for the LMP3? Will the colour scheme be the same as the image of the press release?
At this moment I have no sponsors. This is all coming from my pocket. Thats how committed I am to this. I am hoping for backers and partners to come forward. Its unlikely I know, but then again I never imagined meeting a Deutsche Bank. Maybe lightning can strike twice : ) At the moment, the car will stay in those Rollcentre colours : )
As, from I understood in the press release, you will not be behind the wheel of the Ginetta-Juno LMP3, have you already an idea of the drivers?
I would LOVE to be behind the wheel of the car! At the moment, I need to sell the drives to pay our way. If we get some partners, then I will be in the car without hesitation. However I must do what I have to do with the money available. Regards drivers, I just need to get the best drivers together, choosing carefully, with the best budget to do the best job. My hope though is to drive…….
Was the LMP2 entry for Le Mans 2016 a motivating factor for this LMP3 campaign? Are the 24 Hours of Le Mans always in your mind? (below, Vanina Ickx behind the wheel of the the Rollcentre Dallara-Judd at Le Mans 2005)
Yes, of course, I have not been back to Le Mans since 2008, the pain of not competing there is too much, and for a while I couldn’t watch the TV, but now I sit for the whole race, listening to the sounds of the commentator echoing around the circuit, and the familiar pit entrance horn, the roar of the Corvettes as they launch out of the box……..I want to come back! The entry is a great prize, and my hope is that the LMP3 will prove to be fast and reliable enough for LM24, and become eligible for the race. That would be perfect. But if we are lucky enough to win the prize, then to return with LMP2……..I will be very happy.
Have you already an idea of a LMP2 for 2016? What would you prefer? An open prototype or a Coupé?
I have not thought at all about this……….. but I do love the open tops…….but I am looking to test the LMP3 Coupe to have my impression changed.
Are you still tied with Mosler, and if so, what are the latest news of the company?
Yes, we are still racing and building Mosler cars, they race in Britcar, Supercar Challenge, V de V, Spanish GT, and in Australia. They are still capable of running at the front with GT3, but for 30% of the cost, and are still winning! My own Super GT car is actually faster than the newest GT3 cars, even with me driving! I would love to see Joao Barbosa race that car against modern cars and see what he could do.
Will you and Rollcentre have other projects next year?
We are looking after a BMW M3 GTR in Britcar, and I will be racing in it and also doing the 24 Hours of Silverstone. We are involved still with race car equipment sales for Intercomp, I now sell LED lights for night racing, and lots of other things going on that take all my time. I still am very passionate about racing, and my years are advancing, so time is precious!
My biggest project though is bringing up my children. My Boys Morgan and Marcus grew up listening to the sounds of Le Mans, and they are very excited to return with the LMP3, although this year only for the test day. They are very proud of their Dad, and that’s everything to me.